Ashley Whittle Tiedt
The “Capital of Cool” has a new way for the young women of our community to give back and earn money for college in the process. After a successful 2018 program, the Miss Tri County pageant is already making plans for the 2019 program. Pageant coordinator and high school teacher Tatum Smith decided to start the program after talking to one of her former students about the need here in Central Alabama. She said, “I thought it was a crying shame. How does the Capital City not have a Miss Alabama preliminary? So, I called the Miss Alabama office and created Miss Tri County. We represent Autauga, Elmore and Montgomery counties.”
Smith put in months of work to get the pageant off the ground. She called the state field director and filled out paperwork hoping that the pageant would qualify. Once it did, the hard work started. Smith had to plan the pageant, hire the judges and find participants. Smith said, “This past January, we held our first ever Miss Alabama preliminary, and we have had an amazing time with Caitlyn McTier as our winner.”
Smith’s inspiration for starting the pageant came from her own experience. She competed in Autauga County Junior Miss when she was in high school, and the program inspired her to look for more ways to serve her community and empower other women. Her experience then, and her work as a teacher now is the driving force behind helping these young women achieve their dreams, and that starts with helping them pay for their education. Smith says, “The Miss Tri County pageant is focused on scholarships.”
The Miss Tri County Pageant is a part of the Miss Alabama/Miss America circuit. In accordance with rules of the parent pageant, Miss Tri County participants must perform a talent and have a platform. Additionally, they must help to raise money for the Children’s Miracle Network, which is Miss America’s national platform. Smith says, “Miss Alabama puts a major emphasis on community service. That is why I love this organization so much. It isn’t always about winning a title, it’s about helping the communities in our state.”
University of Alabama freshman Caitlyn McTier was the 2018 winner of the Miss Tri County pageant. She too is proud to be a part of Miss Tri County because of their commitment to service. She says, “The community service aspect is also what drew me to pageants. Miss America is different from other pageants because of its emphasis on service. In 2012, I began my journey by working to end food insecurity within my area by partnering with Alabama Childhood Food Solutions to provide students with food over the weekend and summer. Now, seven years later, I have been able to use my passion to help others join the cause by working with local food banks, serving as a staff member for Beat Auburn Beat Hunger and educating young students about the childhood food insecurity problems that many of their peers face.”
This was McTier’s second year participating in a Miss Alabama qualifying pageant, but she is no stranger to the Miss America circuit. When she was growing up, her mom was a volunteer for the organization. She says, “Growing up, I always got to hang out backstage with all of the Miss Alabama contestants. I was always amazed by their grace, confidence and most importantly their dedication to service, and I knew that I wanted to follow in their footsteps.” McTier also believes the pageant will help to prepare her for the next steps in her life. “I have seen how being a part of pageants has transformed me for the better and made available so many opportunities to me that I would have never had. How many girls can say they have had over 50 interviews at age 18? After being interviewed so many times, I feel like I can talk to anyone from any walk of life,” she said.
Caitlyn will be representing us at Miss Alabama on June 6-9, 2018, at the Wright Center on Samford University’s campus. Tickets can be purchased through the Miss Alabama website. Caitlyn is in the Sigma Group and will compete in swimsuit and on-stage question on Wednesday night, evening gown on Thursday night and talent on Friday night. Top 12 will be announced Saturday night and will compete in all facets of the competition again that night with winners announced at the conclusion.
A date for the 2019 Miss Tri County pageant has been set. It will be held on July 27, 2018, at Troy University’s Davis Theatre in historic downtown Montgomery, which is a venue partner of the program. McTier said one of the things that drew her to the Miss Tri County pageant was that it was held in such a historic area and town. In addition to the Miss Tri County pageant, there will be a Miss Tri County Outstanding Teen pageant, which ties in with the Miss Alabama/Miss America programs. It will also be held on July 27. “We are excited to add a teen portion, because we believe it is important to have a teen for the Miss to mentor. While we are going to miss Caitlyn, our first-ever Miss Tri County, we are looking forward to growing as a preliminary and can't wait to see who our new Miss and Teen will be,” said Smith.
If you would like to participate in either of these programs, you will need to register and fill out the packet of paperwork, which will be available on June 11 after the Miss Alabama pageant. Information about registration, as well has how your business can sponsor the pageant is available on their website at www.misstricountyal.com.